Mark Smith

Joined July 2017
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  • Day21

    Duck tour Quack Quack

    August 13 in the United States

    More leisurely start again, out just after 9. We had decided to jead to the Duck Tour this morning and grab some breakfast once we had got a time to do the tour. It was about 10 minute or so walk down to the Harbour front near the Aquarium which was the closest Duck tour to us (they leave from three places, Prudential Centre and the Sceince Museum, all doing the same tour just in different order). At the counter the girl was having problems with her computer and while she had resertved us 4 spots on the 1020 (it wasa bout 935 now so some time for a coffee and croissant) she couldn’t process my payment or issue the tickets. While she was trying another chap came along who had some tickets on his phone with the Boston pass so she sent him to the desk around the corner whete the Ducks left from. After a couple more minutes she said I’d best go round to that desk too, where they would be able to sort me out with the seats she had reserved for me – she had radioed them ahead to say I was coming.
    When I got there they said the 1020 only had 3 seats left, could the chold sit on my lap. I laughed at the thought of Ed on my knee. I explained there should be some free as the lady the otherside had been holding them for me. The guy said no they were for the chap he had just served. I said no way he hadn’t even interacted with the lady other than to show here his phone. Turned out he ahd wanted 4 seats too and had obviously kist agreed when asked oif he had had them reserved on the other side. Don’t think it was deliberate just a misunderstanding I imagine and bad luck. So we ended up on the 1040, more time to wander around and have a look at the harbour etc.
    We took some oics and saw the whake watch boatd going out (and one coming in very dat) and also saw the jet boat Codzilla – not like the Montreal one though! Went back to the departure spoot about 1025 and joined the line. Seats were allocated so no need to be at fron t of line. Had a pic taken before boarding.
    Our guide was dressed as a witch and claimed to be from Salem. She had a toy cat with her called Hocus Pocus, if she waid his name we needed to go Quack Quack loudly! Tour was 80 minutes or so, with about 20 minutes or so on the water. We went round the historic sites and as traffic was light heaed into the back bay too. Saw various old churches and burial grounds. Heard the Paul Revere wasn’t really the hero of the ride as he didn’t do all of it, but his name rhymned better when a poem was written bout it yeats later. The back bay area is New Boston with reclaimed land and streets in drid formation. Old Boston on original land is a mass of narrower winding streets. The original puritan setlers bought the land of a local man who had settled it in the mid 1600’s. They were the folks from Boston in Lincolnshire who started the city. The Common was wheren they hung noin puritans and witches. We drove past the Cheers bar which isn’t anything like the TV one inside (and the witch had been and no one knew her name!). The Botanical Gardens we passd had the state tree from every state except Hawaii and Florida as they didn’t survive the frost. Had a sculptute of some ducklings from a fanous kids story and a pedallo lake with swans. Sam was going nowhere near that. We joined the atwr from the Cambridg side having past the science museum which we were told had an indoor lightning show. We drove through an old lock to onto the Charles river. Saw a sailing club that was open to all and pay whatever you wanted, run as a charity and supported by the Ducks. They had a fleet of 28 all but one replicas of the WWII ones. They were avtiallu called DUKW but known to everyone as Ducks. Kids on the boar were allowed to steer it for b I on the water, our two were a bit old!
    Heard about the huge cost of the Biug Dig that sunk the highways underground. We ent by the old Beacon Hill area with very epensive houses and narrow streets, a parking spot had gone for 500k. We ended up back where we started at aboit 1210, so more like 100 minute tour. The guide had been good value with a dry humour. At the start when we sad we were from London, she said will need to be nice about the English then.
    We had seen a place called Legal Seafood on the Hrbour Front and so went there for lunch. Sam and I had fish and chips which was good. We went to the Aquarium after this as we were nearby. We had already bought combo tickets from the duck place snd while I exchanged them for proper tickts with Tash the other looked at the seals swimming in the enclosure outside the aquarium.
    Once inside first thinsg were African penguins. All very cute and posing while drying their feathers. Their enclosure was all inside on the ground floor level, The interior of the building was dominated by a huge circular tank that went 4 floors up to the top. You spiralled up arpun the tanl looking at the smaller tanks on the outsode walls and then spiralled down again looking at the big tank.
    We bent off to look at the seals and sea lions outside – as Ed said we’ve seen them in the wild and youi cant beat that! Then when we cameback inwe realised that half of the penguin area was a different breed, the enclosure was split into two, These were little blue penguins we had seen in NZ, really tiny and very cute. We winded our way up to the top of the tank. The large octopus wanst doing much but was big. The coral reef tanks were as ever the most colourful. Various sea horse tanks and some odd updatnding pupe fish. No jelly fish that I saw in this one.
    You could go right to the top of the tank and look down into the open top, this made Sam feel a bit of vertigo so she went back to the level below. There was adiver in there cleaning tha pants and roicks. Lots of very big fish in here and we also saw three trutles incluing a huge one called Myrtle waho was around 100 years old ane very big indeed!
    Once back down we went to the shop and Tash got a big turtle! They ahd the Hairy Otter ts short I had got from Vancouver. We got a green screen photo then headed back to hotel. Not as big as Vancouver or Toronto aquarium but impressive with the big tank in the middle and the oenguins.
    Ed and Sam were tired so stayed in the hotel, Tash and I went to the cinema to see Mammia Mia 2 which she ahd wanted to see since it came out. Cinema was 10 minuts walk away on Boston Common, 20 or so screens. Got a huge drink and popcorn and ent in. Only one person in when we went in, but probably about 20 by the time the film starter. The drink machine was like the one in 5 guys Putney, so we had raspberry fanta zero. Film was goof, very tongue in cheek and hammed it up. Tash was confuses as she thought the flashbacks to Donna the mum were flashforwards to the daughter in the duture!
    Went back to room after and we ordered room servie. I had clam howder, Sam a huge turkey club. I also had Boston Cream pie which had been ionvented in the hotel. Was OK, cake with cream in the middle but not my favourite dessert.
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  • Day20

    Tea Party

    August 12 in the United States

    Had a leisureky wake up, we were all feeling tired. I was feeling little under the weather, think it might have been fighting reaction to a bite I had got on Friday that was now quite itchy. We went to the coffee shop attached to the Beantown Pub from yesterday and sat towards the back ordering from the same menu. Oatmela again for me. The Liverpool West Ham game was on TV so we happily watched that, then headed off to walk to the Boston Tea Parrty museum about 15 minutes away. Well navigated again by Edward. The morning was warm but foggy/low cloud and there was some rain while we were on the eay there.
    Arived just before 11 and bext tour was 1115. We were allowed into a room set out like an old meeting room where the patriuots would have gathered to discuss politics etc. Had church like pews and a pulpit at the front.
    We were each given a feather on the eay in and a lady in character at the front told us tehese would help disguise us to the English so we looked like natives rather than patriots. She gave everyone a card with a character that we would be from the night of the rebellion in 1775. I was Edward’s roommate. Tash ewas Sam’s mother. A couple of the parts needed to read out something from the card when prompted, which we didn’t want. The lady showed us some things to do, so it would become a bit like a opantomime. If we heard something bad we should boo and hiss, good meant bang hands and stamp feet. Somethong very bad meant putting thumb on nose and waving fingers in air while shouting FIE. Very good meant shouting Huzzah and fist pumping the air.
    At 1115 a man in costume came in and gave us a humorous and informative talk about the events of the tea party rebellion. One of the girls reading her part got very giggly and you could see her dad getting very frustrated. We learnt that Heorge III was taxing lots of things, paper, glass and now tea at 3 per cent. A fanmous uote was taxation without representation is tyranny, as the colonies didn’t have any seat in government or say in how their taxes were spent.
    We then went through and onto one of the three tea boats attacked that night. 112 tea crates on ech were destroyed. They weighed about 140 pounds eqach so it was hard wrok moving them from the hold and breaking them up and scattering the tea, taking most of the night. A crowd of around 5000 had agathered to help and watch. A different chap in character took us around the ship and we all got chance to throw a tea crate into the water. Then off the boat and inside into the museum.
    This was very well done, with three rooms. The first showed a hologram film of two ladies talking, one was a patriot the other a tory (King supporter) and they argued about the fate of the colony and british rule. Each room built from the tea incicent towards the war for independence.
    The next room had some artefacts and paintings. A film showed us the history of the only surviving tea chest, which had been found by a man the morning after on the beach and kept in his fmily for generations, used as a table and a cat box at different times. It was now in the museum along with the only remaining tea from the night as a liuid in a small glass bottle.
    Then two pictures oin the wall came to life like Harry Potter. One was King George III, the other John Hancock. They argued about Britih rule.
    The third room was a large curved screen which showed a film of the start of the war. Patriots got wind of the British army heading to Lexington to arrest Hancock and Adams, so Paul Revere did d fanous midnight horse ride from Boton to warn them to move on. The militia waited in Lexington for the British and, when the British advanced with bayonets one of the militia fired a shot, which starter firing from both sides, known as the shot that was heard around the world and signified full on wat between Britin and US, all stemming from the tea party incient.
    The whole thing was very well done and even the kids enjoyed it and learnt a little I think. We ended up in the café where you could have alimitless tea cup to sampole the 5 teas on the boats that night. I tried three, two were normal and souchong was very woody. Kids coudnt stand the smell. We sat at atbel with a lad who chatted to us while waiting for his Irish girlfriend who worked in the shop. He ahd travelled to Europe a fair bit so we chatted about that. He was from Philadelphia so joked about the rocky stepos and pictures I had ftom there from years ago. Ed and I palyed 9 mens morriss. I won game 1 then he won next two. Exited through gift shop and out. Walked to Faneuil Hall and Quincy makrte for some food. Went into decent restauartnt, I had good clam chowder.
    Had look in the hall then thought about Duck Tour but decided to leave that and followed some of the Freedom Trail. Went into the South Meeting House, a Puritan chapel used by Patrioys for meetings. The pews were laid out in boxed in pens, reminded kids of cattle pens at the Big Sheep. Ed did a couple of treasure hunt sheets which he enjoyed. The aisles were short so everyone was closer to the pulpit.
    On leaving we found a cup cake shop, including a vegan choclate one for Sam! Then followed trail back to hotel as we were all tired.
    After an hour or so Tash and I headed out for food. Google suggested there were supermarkets nearby but the first just looked like a takeaway food store (though on the way back we noticed a downstairs that looked more supermarket like) and the second was a C Mart that turned out to be Chinese. So we doubled bac and gt some bread, crisps and jerky from a 7/11, then Tash ahd a ham and sheese toastie and hot choclate from Caffe Nero. Had meant to get Ed a toastie two but the order cam through for just 1 and we couldn’t face queueing again. So went to Burger King for him and got chicken burger.
    Everyone was happy with their food and we wayched some TV before going to bed.
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  • Day19

    Off the boar - Boston

    August 11 in the United States

    We had a leisurely morning, packed last things away and went up to breakfast just after 8. Ed and I played a last bit of table tennis on the ship - he's definitely improved. Went to the room to wait for out call, we were purple 2 group. Got the call about 915 and left ship, one last key card checkout.
    Found our bags in the tyerminal. No porters around so we carried them to taxi queue. Quese was longer for larger cabs for more than 2 people, but we only waited about 15 minutes. Despatcher was angry at some elderlies who marched past the queue and got in further doiwn the road. She said normally she would have made them get out but as they were old it wasnt worth it.
    Cab was about 15 minutes to Omni Parker Hosue Hotel right in centre of Boston. Even though was only about 10am one of our rooms was ready so we went straight up - bags quickly followed. We headed back down to the concierge and got a map and some ideas of what to do. Went to pub up road which was showing the Chelsea game and had some brunch. After game finished we decided to go back to room and chill until about 1 when we headed off to the Blue Man Group theatre about 15 minutes walk away.
    It was raining so we took coats - first rain we had been out in since we came away. Ed navigated us to the theatre and we got drinks in bar and programme and fridge magnet! Got our seats - right in front row, complete with ponchos for paint splatter.
    Show was great. The three blue men were really expressive and behaved like child like beings, a little like curios things from a ikds pprogramme like the tele tubbies!
    After playing paint drums at the start (these were set up and back from front of stage so no splatter of audeince), they threw some marshmallows into crowd. ONe hit Tash in eye and bounced to Ed who gave it to me, I ate it. Then they threw marshamllows into one of the guys mouths he must have caught about thirty in all, after the first twenty or so he moulded them round his mouth into a funnel shaoe inside to be able to catch more in the middle.
    Paint balls were thrown at the other blue man who caught them in his mouth and spat them onto a canvas making a picture.
    Sam had been given a handbag before the show started to put on her lap and after the mallows the blue men came over and took it and put the marshmallows into it then gave it back. Sam hamed up a hoorified look and the corwd thought it was hers! A bit later someone took it away as I put it on the floor near the end of the row.
    They climbed into the audience on chair arms and bacs, using Ed and Sams heads as balance rests. Chewed some crucnhy cereal and spat it all over, we got some especially Ed, who hd behind his poncho and the blue man mimicked jim hiding behind the cereal box. They got a lady on stage from near the back and ate twinkies with her. She was very funny, wouldnt be fed by the guy at one piint and he blew on the twicnkie to cool it down. Mushed up twinkie (actually banana) spurted out of holes in blue mens chests, sytaight into audince. I got a bit but Sam got loads, all in her hair!
    The show was about hour and half and really good. Ponchos werent needed that much other than the banana. The finale saw toilet rolls type paper pulled across the audience from the back. At the font we had to keep pulling it forward and piling it on the stage. It was never ending, Ed got covered, especially when the blue men got back on stage and threw the pile over the front row. He sat for the rest of the show (only few minutes) in a cocoon of papsr! They blew more roll from the stage with fans. Was great finish verys pectaclular.

    Down in the bar at the end the Blue Men were posing for pics. We had to wait while the guy in fornt tried to do a magic card trick with the blue man. Didnt quite work! Blue man took my phone and did couple of great selfies!
    Ed then realised he had left his coat under seat, someone fetched it for us. Walked back to hotel for just after 4 and chilled until 530 when we got an Uber 10 minutes or so to the Summer Shack lobster restuarnat that had been recommended. It was good had soem great lobster potstickers (which we had seen test kitchen on baor produce some shrimp ones) and lobster rolls. MIne with a little butter was good. Got Uber back to hotel and turned in.
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  • Day18

    Into the US - Bar Harbor

    August 10 in the United States

    Entering the US today. Got to breakfast early as we had an 830 slot to process US immigration. THe previous night had been traumatic as the paperwork delivered to the room said we needed to complete the old green I94W forms and alos have a printed copy of our ESTA. This is despite the SU governemnt website saying US law does not require a printed copy of the ESTA tp be carried or produced by travellers. Went to talk to front desk who said did we have screenshot. I said no and that thought woukd be hard to find on email ro website. She was vague as didnt seem to realise that ESTA lasted for two years and that I had used mine few times already to enter US without needing a copy. Went away to talk to someone and came back saying we had to find it or we may get fined and not be able to proceed on cruise. Worst case we would need to app;ly again for one. Didnt offer much help to let us use their PC etc, just suggested we use our phones in morning when they worked in port to look for info. USeless.

    Back in room decided should buy wifi pack to look for it now to screenshot. ESTA website was searchable without confirmation number so I foujd them all and screenshotted. Still had uneasy nights sleep wondering if this would suffice.

    We were called to the casino area to quu for immigration. Queue was longer than it seemed when we joined it. Took us about 45 moinutes to reach the front. Chap never asked about ESTA. I asked him about it and he just said these forms they did instead and need to make sure we give in the slip he leaft in our passports when we leave US. JUst like the old days! Such bad info from the cruise company, I will be feeding that back to them without doubt!

    We then had to get tender tciket as boat was moored offshore a little way and we needed to get smaller boat ashore. Had to wait another 20 minutes ro so for our turn and so eventually we got to shore about 1010, just after shceduled tour time of 10. Met our guide Will, a younger chap in his 20s this time.

    He drove us off through Br Harbor and towards the Acadia National Park. Was established by man called Drew from the area nd also John Rockefeller. Rockefeller still have many houses etc on the island. The park was one of first in US and was established by Rockefeller buying land ferom people and alos people giving it for free as they suppported the idea. The first area along the coast we visited was very busy. Had lots of pink grabite to scramble on which Ed loved. This is where pink granite in White House comes from. Further uop we stopped at Thunder Hole - when tide is right waves make a huge noise as air gets trapped against rocks here, not quite right for our visist, but nice spot with good walkway down to sea level (busy though), Sam saw people fro night 1 dinner who were on a bus tour and not liking it - hot and couldnt hear guide!

    We drove on and Will talked about teh cariageways Rockefeller had built acorss the park. We sqw a horse and carriage along one of them. Most are cycle ways now and used for that by visitors.

    Saw house owned by TV producer and one by Martha Stewart. Will talked about lobster fishing here, which seemd much more fats buck and cut throat than the more sustainable approach in the Canadian towns we visited. Other fish ahd been taken too much so lobsters was now controlled by the fisheris board and quotas for pots only became available when fishermen died or retired, thoygh Will hinted at some murky goings on. Got impression they would fish for more if they could get away with it. Females with eggs are thrown back, often makred on tail ss breeders so if they are caught when they dont have eggs they will still be out back. Large males are aslo returned as they are good breeders too. Each fisherman has their won coloured buoys (pronouned boo eee!) and matching pole on their boat so coastguard and other fisherman can tell if people are sticking to their own patch.

    We drove past the only fjord on the island. ISalnd was formed by volcanic activity and Mount Cadillac is plug of old volcano then all smoothed over by glaciers. Stooped for laucnh in Northeast BQuay. Much quiter on this side of the island and better for it. Had greatxrabster roll (half crab half lobster)from a small van parked on the quayside. Had look at the baoptda nd lobster pots then back on our way up Cadillac Mountain.

    Reminded us of Revelstoke as you drove all the way to the top. Gradient was shallow going up as was built as a brdleway orignally for horses to make it. Had been a mountain railway up at som point to a hotel at top, but hotels all mysteriously burned don and railway was removed to Mount Washington.

    We had perfect clear day for views and could se our ship docked below. Mountainw as rounded so no really steep edges and we scrambled around at the top for a bit. Got nagment from shop and Will bought us some picture playing cards. mountin was named after same guy that Cadillac cars named after.

    Will told u winters were cold, at least with some very cold snaps. He had snowplough on his truck and earned some money ploughing roads and driveways. He was curios character, telling us how we didnt truct doctors and so made his own medecines. And how his sister had had her son taken away when he was born in hsoiital for no reason.

    Back to Bar Harbor and saw some of the landmarks there (not a big pkace)mand we ere dropped back where we started. Will overrqn the time bit, whcih was nic and we enjoyed the scenery, though for kids was less interesting than the otehr two tours.

    We walked into bar harbor and giot a drink, then some souverbirs (a cuttlefish for tash!) and visisted a pharmacist - they dont appear to have paracetamol over here.

    Ice cream on way back to tender. Ed dint like his raspeberry lemonade or choclate so I ended up with a lot of ice cream!

    Back on the baot we chilled in room. Tash and I went to the Americas Test kitchen again and watched salmon prepared by over roating and pan steaming. Somehting to try at home. Then went for dinner in dining room, mainly to finish off the wine I had started the other day. Got usual spot for quiz and Nicole and To ny came without boys. We almost won, got 21 and tied with the team whoi had won every night. We lost the tiebreaker! Ed was annoyed as we had wavered on whether Australia had 5 or 6 states. We pust 5 but it eas 6. Wpould have won if we had gone with Ed's final answer.
    We exchanged email addresses with them as they may visit London next year so we offered to help with any planning. Show tonight was half magic half comedian. Botrhe good again. Magic was close up this time with projection onto bi scren so all could see. Comic more fo the same with some great observations on pre v post married life (driving directions) and eyesight, icnluding tv remotes with volume and channel looking the same (why do we subscribe to lots of channels that just show the same prgramme but louder!).

    Had to pack our big cases and leave them outside the room by midnight, keeping stuff we wanted to carry. Tash was slow paking but we got there in the end.

    Like night before boat was quite rocky at sea, even though was calm,, Think crusing on ioen seas in rougher weather would be unpelasant
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  • Day17

    Off the boat again just after 830 for our open top jeep tour with Karl. A man in late fiftied with a great handlebar moustache/beard. The day was gloomy and foogy so we had the jeep roof up, but was still warm so air con on.

    Karl had lived in Halifax all his life, but had travelled a fair bit including to Richmond, Barlkes and Wimbledon in London where he had relatives. We went forst to the Titanic Graves. Passed the site of the 1917 explosing whn a munitions ship in harbour heading to WWI collided with another ship. The explosion brought people from their homes who thought it was foreworks and many were injured and blined by the shrapnel.

    At the graveyard there are about 150 Titanic victims buried. The graves are in three lines ane curved to look like the front of a ship. This was the nearest land to the disaster so bodies were brought ahsore here and the White Star Shipping Line paid for their burial. Each stone had a number on indicating the order the bodies were found in. Ed spotted number 2 on one stone. Karl pointed out some interesting ones. John Dawson who became Jack Dawson in the film after the director visited the site. Some daid unknown and some otehrs said that then ha d a name on the side of the stone. These were where the id had come later from dna testing and the name added to the original. One was a small child who had been finally names a few years ago and had a laminated picture of him on the grave together with various cuddly toys. Karl said he was always finding out more about the people. One day a box with a fiddle in was on a garve and he learnt ot was because the man had been a violinist in the band. Ed and Tash were really innterested in the graves. Ed especially as he had studied the Titanic at school and this all brought it to life.

    From here we headed out of town to some little fishing villages. Karl had brought some blueberries and starwberries as a snack for us - reqlly sweet and some fish pieces to throw over the pier as a fisherman had told him that we should be able to see somelobsters and crabs come out to eat it. It took a few minutes but once the fish bits had settled on the bottom sure enough lobsters came out and grabbd them - they were big ones too! We spenta whiel watching them then drove a little way to a museum dedicated to artifacts from a ship that ahd sunk nearby. Was interesting to see all the mundane items that ahd been recovered. Was great for divers in the area due to all the wrecks. Bought a maop shwoing all the wrecks around Halifax.

    Carried on via some more coves and villages. View wasnt picturesque due to fog which was thick in partts but this did make it all very armospehric. We headed to Peggys Cover, a small village witha lighthouse up on rocks. Very popular palce and we saw some folks from the boat who were on a bus tour there. Karl told us how a couple of people every year were killed as swept off the rocks. Was calm today but still many signs warned to keep off the black (wet) rocks and stay on th whiet. Karl parked and took us away from the crowds down a path to scramble on some rocks. They were all smoothed and domed by glaciation. Literally no on else on thse ones and with the fog it was catually very beatiful and peaceful.

    We then drove a little way to the busier lighthouse area. Karl pointed out a good local craft shop to visit and dropped us at the lighthouse, arrnaging to meet at the bottom of the hil in about 30 minutes. Ed and I had a good climb over the rocks, which again were smoothed but there were many ups and downs. Took pictuires with the lighthosue then went ton the craft shop. Tried to buy lighthosue picture, painted rock and painted sheel but phone system went down so credit card payments didnt work. Same in all the shops apparently. I only had aenough dollars for the painted hsell so we relcuatabtly took just that. Drove on to Rhubabrbs restaurant for lunch. Sam and I had good lobster rolls, Ed had fish burger, all were good. Karl said he often brought people here as ws consistenly good. HE ate with us too whcih was nice. After this we drove back to Halifax and saw one of the Universities (tehre are 5) and went through some fo the historic parts, including seeing some of the grander houses down byt the water. He dropped us on the waterfront and we walked along the boardwalk back to the baot.

    Consensus was this was more interesting for the kids than Charlottetwon ad the main stops at Titanic and Peggys Coiver were more up their street.

    Back on baord we chilled. Tash and I went to see America Test Kitchen doing Asian Potstcikers (Gyoza) and another steamed dumpling. Was half hour demo from lady doing cooking and informative. Went to Lido to eat as it was Gala dinner again and we coudn;t be bothered with that!. Met again for the quiz with the other family, then went to see the Dance show (the singers were in it too). This was good and Ed, despite saying he didnt want to see it thought it was great too. One dance near the end to more street music was superb, with all the daners showiung off some ferocious moves. Heard los of folks commenting on that part on way out.
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  • Day16

    Sydney (not Australia!)

    August 8 in Canada

    We arrived at Sydney in Nova Scotia and affter breakfast disembarked and had picture taken with Town Cryer - Tash holding bell. He gave us some small badges tow with Nova Scotia crest and two with Canadad and we learned Nova Scotia was New Scotland, never really thought of that before.
    On the dock side is a big fiddle, maybe 40 feet high. Due to links to folk music of Scotland and Island I guess. We had no plans today so got map from the tourist info place and walked up into town. We followed the mainstreet along past the museum, an old domed building and saw a cafe up a sideatreet so went for coffee and toast. Was cute place with kids play area painted with muppets murals.

    The shop connected next door had some wollen knitted frisbees, which we tested and were very good so got one. Ed also got some computer gamer socks. We went back to the main street and crossed at the raonbow crossing (lots of these around to show tolerance to all) and into the Cape Breton craft centre. Got a magnet and a funny painted print of a goat called Alma apparently.

    Continued walking down to the park where the kids played in the water fountains for a bit and we watched a lady feed ducks on the lake. Very funnya s more and more ducks kept appearing. Walked to the waterfront and followed the boardwalk back to the ship.

    Went up to the Lido deck and spent the afternoon in the sun and the pool. The deck was so warm in the sun it was actually too painful to walk on. Ed took to shuffling on a towel across the warmest parts

    Sam had a spa treatment at 5 so the three of us went into the main dining room at 530. Got a bottle of wine as they aid it could be stored until we went in again on Friday night (avoiding Thursday night gala dinner as we didnt have posh enough clothes apparently!). Food in here is nice but decent gastropub standard I would say.

    We went to the bar and took up spor in corner fro the quiz. Nicole and Tony our Canadian froiends came along with their sones (Brogan and Rogerio I think) and we did the quiz. Good fun with Irish compere, Sam joined us at the tail end. They went off to dinner and we went to the show. Was a magician (Alexander Great) tonoght who did ramge of tricks very well. One where he amde a card appear from a pack drawn on a sheet of paper was very perplexing. Even the swwing the lady in half I stared at the feet but could not see how they chnaged from artifical to real and back again.
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  • Day15

    We were a little behind schedule arriving on Charlottetown, which gave us a few more minutes for breakfast. We got off just after 9 and met Harry our guide in the cruise termional. He was a great chap, an oyter fisherman by main trade. With a wife who ran the Moo ice cream chain which we had enjoyed in Whistler last year!
    His car was spacious and air conditioned as it was another scorching day. He suggested we head out of town first as roadworks made it slow around Charlottetown at momnt. We headed north through the island and Harry gaeve us lots of info on what we saw. He was really passionate and interested in the area and seemd to know or be related to almost everyone we saw or drove by, which gave loads of great colour to the trip. He showed us freshwater mussel farms (lots of fresh water on PEI as comes up from auifers) and slat water oyster farms. Mussles farms were being converted to oyter in many places as more lucrative. Lobster fishing happens on the North Shore through JUen July then stops to llos them to breed. Starts again on South Shore in September then stops again. So North Shore fishermen only have a 2 month season for lobster.
    Whole area was very environemental conscious, repecting the resources. They ahd formed the first coop in Canada and first bank also. First stop was at a hotel which had been in the Green Gables film. Had been a grand 32 bd house built by an oil baron, but when he died it was taken over by Canadian Parks in lieiu of taxes.Stooped at a bbeach next to a lighthouse (wooden but red and white, no longer used). We wlaked onto the beach, very fine sand, the whole island is a giant sandbar, no real bedrock other than a mall amount that had been quarried years ago and used to build the oldest red bricked buildings on the island. . The sea was very warm due to gulf stream, in the 70’s. Like all the beaches we saw was lovely. Stopped at an art gallery cooperative and got picture of lighthouse.
    Then went to see oldest building on PEI which had belonged to ancestors of Harry’s wife. They had come across from France in 1700’s. Next door was the old bank, the first one and next to that the oldest catholic church in Canada where Harry was married! Went around the villages of Rustico where Harry lived. Went down onto a newly built area for the view. Passed chapo on laewnmower tractor who didn’t acknowledge Harrys wave. Turned out he had moved up from Texas and was quite miserable and not beldning in with island life. We could tell from his manner!
    Went from here to Green Gables to try and beat the buses from our ship which we did just. Was busy, had to queue to get into the house, Sam was v excited, rest of us less so. Was hosue where author of Anne of Green Gables had lived and based the stories here. Lovers Lane and the Haunted Woods from the books were nearby. Had drink and crisps, Sam got model of the hosue then back to the car, stopped here about an hour altogether.
    Went from here to see the red sandstone cliffs with cormorant nests. Red was die to high iron content making rust. Parked at a aheadland where we could look either way and see the cliffs further in than we were, very impressive. Harry said in winter ice floes from Arctic floated down here with selas living on them whwre the seals stayed to breed. As weather warmed they would float out then back again for f ew weeks until it got warm enoygh for them to hit the gulf stream then they were carried away and melted.
    Saw Harrys hosue, a grand colonial style place. Stopped off at the oyster place he runs, showed us the cages they farm them inm had chat with one of the fishermen, who was seeding the cages. Takes three eyars for oyster to grow to saleable weight. Three grades cocktail, small and alrge. Saw lobster pots, new ones were rectangles as easier to stack. Old ones were the rounded tops, better instorms and less likely to smash. New ones were for younger fishermen, older ones had the rounded. Harry suggested the younger guys would learn and convert eventually.
    We headed back to Charlottetwon , saw PEI Uni, specialising in medcien and vets. Saw the old district where the shipbuilders ahd lived then the palce where Canada was formed where the heads of each region in mid 1700s had come to sign the constirution.Also saw guns built by French to repel English, never fired once French saw size of English fleet arriving.
    Dropped near Victoria Street with lots of restaurants. Said goodbye to Harry, a really great guide. Had lunch, fish/lobster all round then went to Cool as a Moose, then Cows Ice Cream. Ed got great T Shirt parody of Fortnite – Farmnite, Cattle Royale!
    Walked back to ship and back on board about 3pm. Had rest in room then Tash had treatment 515 so we played some draughts and table tennis then met her for the quiz with nice couple from Canada who were very jolly! Then went for quick buffet dinner before heading to the theatre for a BBC PLnet Earth film set to live music from the band. Good entertainment then to be exhausted!
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  • Day14

    Day at Sea

    August 6

    Day at Sea
    Monday was a day at sea so no shore visit. Sam had a Spa treatment booked for 8am, rest of us stayed in bed longer and went to breakfast about 930. Buffet again.
    We played a bit of table tennis after breakfast then went back to the room. At 1030 there was a tour round the kitchens, which was fairly brief but showed the scale of the operations. Played some draughts in library/games area thenBack to room and kids changed into swimming stuff to head to the swimminhg pool. We all lazed around the Lido pool and Sam and I headed for the Spa relaxation area and laid on the hot benches for half hour or so then into the spa pool. Chatted to guy from ourside Boston who was very nice. Said aquarium is great. Was also very knowledgeable on UK politics, Corbyn was not his fabourite.
    Went back to meet the kids and we planned to go to the gala night dinner, but when we went we weren’t dressed smartly enough so headed to the Lido buffet instead. Tash had a spa treatment so went there, rest of us went to the quiz again. Did it as team of three, Ed did well as three questions on flags which is his specialist topic! After quiz we headed into theatre as it was the Cool Britannia music night, Boat was a bit rocky and Ed felt sick so went back to the room, but then reappeared 15 minutes later just before the show started. Show was good, singing and dancing with songs from the sixties through to Adele and Coldplay. Went back to room after this, met Tash who had bnought yet more products and needed Sam to go and sign for them.
    Tash wanted to see the show and I didn’t mind going again so we went to the 10pm one. Exactly as before, then back to room for bed.
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